Genevieve Shiroma, new ALRB chair, brings record of ethics problems & mismanagement

Instead of reaching outside ALRB for competent leadership, Governor Jerry Brown has promoted new mismanagement from within: Genevieve Shiroma.

“I am absolutely an honorable person,” Shiroma insisted to the state Senate during her confirmation hearing for an unprecedented fourth term last summer.

Not everybody agrees.

Last spring, California Labor Secretary David Lanier agreed with a state audit that found the ALRB to be a wasteful, abusive, unaccountable organization. We reported that Lanier’s assessment was an indictment of scandal-plagued ALRB member Genevieve Shiroma.

Shiroma led the $10 million campaign to prevent farmworkers’ ballots from being counted after they voted in 2013 on decertification of the UFW. That’s 34% of ALRB’s budget. Some place the number as high as 40%. We really don’t know, because ALRB won’t say. Lanier agreed that the ALRB can’t account for its spending.

Part of the Shiroma record

Shiroma has never been held accountable – not even during her Senate confirmation hearing last June. Here’s more of Shiroma’s record since being appointed in 1999:

Shiroma has chronic conflicts of interest with UFW and legislature.

  • Shiroma paid a UFW lobbyist $120,000 to promote her own outside campaign for an office in Sacramento.
  • The UFW lobbyist, Richie Ross, pushed for a state law that would increase the ALRB’s powers under Shiroma. The law was SB 25.
  • After the UFW complained about problems getting government contracts, Shiroma gave money to then-Senate President Darrell Steinberg.
  • Steinberg, with Ross’s help, ensured passage of the law to expand ALRB’s powers. (Governor Brown vetoed the law.

Shiroma runs secretive operations at ALRB.

  • A state appeals court ruled last May that farmworkers have the right to challenge ALRB’s secretive “mandatory mediation and conciliation” sessions that govern their futures.
  • During her 17 years as a board member, the ALRB has become more and more secretive.
  • Since Shiroma’s reappointment, the ALRB has been more secretive than ever, publishing nothing on its public calendar.
  • The secret reappointment of UFW militant Silas Shawver to the ALRB general counsel’s office was so hush-hush that Shawver’s name was hidden from public personnel list.
  • The ALRB has hidden from public inquiries about its internal problems and allegations of mismanagement and corruption.

Shiroma violates state transparency practices. Shiroma wouldn’t even be transparent with the state legislature.

  • During her June, 2016 Senate confirmation, she stammered and rambled when asked about the lack of transparency on the ALRB.
  • She tried to act surprised that ALRB had not published the minutes of its meetings since April 2015.
  • That led to a senator to chastise her: “When you’re not even publishing minutes for over a year, that’s not transparency.”

Shiroma presided over chronic waste and abuse. A state audit ripped ALRB for sloppy financial practices, chronic waste, and an inability to justify its budget, and for failing to fulfill its primary mission of supervising worker elections on union representation.

Shiroma couldn’t account for 40% of ALRB’s budget.

  • In her 2016 confirmation hearing, Shiroma could not explain why ALRB spent 40% of its budget to target a single farmworker and its employees who voted to de-certify the UFW: “I don’t know where those numbers came from,” she said.
  • “I haven’t been able to verify those numbers” pertaining to the huge chunk ALRB budget spent to target Gerawan Farming and its workers, Shiroma told senators, even though she had plenty of figures to make herself look good.

Shiroma denied bias toward UFW, but not a single senator believed her. She claimed to be unbiased at her June, 2016 confirmation hearings, but:

  • Shiroma’s opponents criticized her for being biased.
  • Shiroma’s supporters praised her for her bias.

Shiroma broke her agreement to prove lack of bias. Shiroma could not explain why she did not provide senators – as agreed beforehand – to prove that her ALRB decisions were not biased.

Shiroma had NO support from real farmworkers. Dozens of farmworkers showed up to voice opposition to Shiroma during her Senate confirmation hearing. Not a single farmworker showed up to support her.

Shiroma used fake UFW agents to smear critics. A whistleblower from inside ALRB came forward to expose the ALRB’s use of fake agents to smear critics of the UFW.

Shiroma was backed by UFW lobby ‘slush fund.’ Senate President Kevin de Leon, criticized for operating a UFW lobby triad “slush fund” to skirt campaign disclosure rules, pushed Shiroma through the June 20 hearing and forbade translators to help farmworkers tell senators about their concerns.